Posted by: Jack Hope | Wednesday June 27, 2012

Momentum

I had a realization yesterday during my push through my bad day that has finally allowed me to put into words something that has been in the back of my mind since I first started thinking about writing a blog about my depression experience. I first started thinking about doing this last September and even though it took me six months to actually start publishing anything, from the beginning the name ‘Beyond Depression’ was what popped into my head.

Why Beyond Depression?

Just because it sounds good? A fancy way of saying ‘recovery?’ Blind and unreasonable optimism?

My answers up until now have seemed to be nebulous and ill-defined. But the words have lingered with me as a way of expressing what I am looking for, even if it’s often seemed to be inexpressible.

The answer however, turns out to lie in physics and motion.

Inertia is a basic concept in classical physics, frequently summed up as: objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest tend to stay at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force. Inertia, as I’m sure everyone has noticed though, tends to apply to a lot of things in life, aside from the movement of objects.

And as I was trying to push through my list yesterday, I realized that my Depressive Disorder is very similar to inertia. A depressive episode weighs me down, it increases the inertia that I have to overcome if I am to effect change in my life in and in the world around me. Depression is the inertia that keeps me in bed or from leaving my apartment or talking to my friends.

I’m sure I’m not the first one to make this analogy and I’m sure I won’t be the last. It’s a fairly obvious one after all. I’m pretty sure the thought had occurred to me in the past as a good explanation for what a Depressive Disorder feels like.

But this time I was able to take the thought a step further: objects in motion do after all tend to stay in motion. And that’s why I can continue to  clean my kitchen, or hold down a job (sometimes) or otherwise coast through life during a Depressive episode depending on its severity.

And that is when I realized it: Depression and mental illness results in me losing the capacity to meaningfully impact the course of my own life, whether to start it moving again or to speed it up or to slow it down. Life doesn’t always give us the option to have complete control over the course of our lives, but a person who is functional can always make some changes, even in the face of limited options.

And now I am able to define what the words ‘beyond depression’ mean to me, the inexpressible thought has finally found the words it has been searching for:

I will be beyond depression when I reach a state in which the management of this condition will not significantly impair my ability to make meaningful choices about the direction of my life.  This is what lies beyond recovery and healing.

I do not know when I will cross the line from recovery to being beyond. I am very sure that I will not recognize it until I am well past that point.

I want to stress that I think this is the answer for me and that other people will undoubtedly find their own answers, their own solutions to their struggles. People will undoubtedly find flaws in my reasoning but for me this represents a definable goal, that exceeds simply ‘feeling better’ or ‘not feeling sad’ or not having an episode again.

And like all mental illness goals, I realize that it will be a management process, one that I could back slide from again. There is no cure, no solution that will not require ongoing effort, and I will not pretend otherwise.

But now I think I know what I’m working towards.

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Responses

  1. This analogy is very pertinent and I agree depression does weigh down on a person greatly. Well done to you for setting yourself a goal to get beyond depression. I am still in depression but I hope to recover soon and I wish you all the best and hope you can recover to.

    • Thank you! Let us hope both of us find our paths to recovery soon! Best of luck!

      • thanks x

  2. I have come to recognize recently that clarity is beautiful and precious. I am grateful for the moments when I have it and can feel the peace that comes with knowing.

    I am happy for you Jack.

    • I hope that I can hold onto my clarity, it keeps me pointing in the right direction.

  3. the management of this condition will not significantly impair my ability to make meaningful choices about the direction of my life
    i was struck by this
    (you have an incredible name for someone writing about depression)

    • Believe me, I am well aware of the irony of my name (particularly my last name) especially in light of my own history and my family’s history of mental illness.

      In school they used to call me hopeless and I used to joke that I was never without hope but there have been times when that was anything but true sadly.

      I’m glad that my definition seems to be resonating and I want to thank you for your comment and thoughts.

      • hope is a frightening thing
        but i hear in your good words that you are still holding to it.
        sorry, i never doubted that you’d noticed your own name
        or had it pointed out to you before so i don’t know why i thought it was necessary to do so, just wanted to appreciate your writing.
        my last name is Brown, just fine as a colour or a mood
        but my writing is much less about moving beyound than living with so i appreciated what you had to say.

  4. knowing what we are working towards is great progress and brings a sense of peace, doesn’t it? I just read this quote (twice) tonight and wanted to pass it along here as it seems applicable: “once you become aware of something you can’t be a victim of it.” Here’s to increased awareness, day by day…moment by moment.


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